The New Age of Exploration

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					The New Age of Exploration
 NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond

                February 2005
 National Aeronautics and Space Administration
        To improve life here,
        To extend life to there,
        To find life beyond.

        To understand and protect our home planet,
        To explore the universe and search for life,
        To inspire the next generation of explorers
        …As only NASA can.

        Safety, the NASA Family, Excellence, and Integrity

Titan’s atmosphere glows in blues, reds, and greens in this image taken by Cassini in ultraviolet and infrared wave-
lengths. The colors reveal a brighter (redder) northern hemisphere. Blue represents ultraviolet wavelengths and
shows the high atmosphere and detached hazes.
    Tragedy, Triumph, and Transformation
    Reflection’s from NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe

                         President John F. Kennedy said,           space exploration program. The fundamental goal of this
                         “All great and honorable actions are      directive is “…to advance U.S. scientific, security, and eco-
                         accompanied with great difficulties,      nomic interests through a robust space exploration program.”
                         and both must be enterprised and          In issuing it, the President committed the Nation to a journey
                         overcome with answerable                  of exploring the solar system and beyond. We will return to
                         courage.” As I reflect on my three        the Moon in the next decade, then venture further into the
                         years at NASA, there have been            solar system, ultimately sending humans to Mars and
                         moments of great tragedy and times        beyond. He challenged us to establish new and innovative
                         of extraordinary triumph. I believe       programs to enhance our understanding of the planets, to ask
                         that we have sailed steadily through      new questions, and to answer questions that are as old as
                         both, and along the way, we have          humankind. Our NASA family enthusiastically embraced
                         begun to transform NASA and our-          this directive and the opportunities it presents. And, we
selves to meet the challenges of a new century.                    immediately began a long-term transformation that will
                                                                   enable us to achieve this goal.
Tragedy and Triumph                                                The Vision for Space Exploration, published in February
In 2003, the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and seven astro-       2004, embodies the strategy and guiding principles we will
nauts stunned NASA and the world. The triumphant mission           follow in pursuit of the President’s challenge. And, while we
turned to tragedy in moments, and the shock and loss to our        have enjoyed many great triumphs during these three years,
Agency were staggering. But, the NASA family was both              nothing in my time at NASA makes me more proud than our
determined to keep NASA’s programs going and committed             efforts to transform our Agency and implement the Vision for
to returning the grounded Space Shuttle fleet to flight in trib-   Space Exploration. This Vision defines us as those who seek
ute to our fallen comrades. Even as we mourned, we moved           to improve the human condition by expanding our knowl-
ahead.                                                             edge and understanding of who we are, where we came from,
In 2004, we made excellent progress in implementing the
recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation
Board to return the Space Shuttle safely to flight. We also
enjoyed and shared with the world a host of NASA triumphs.
Our Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, found definitive
evidence of water on the Red Planet and continue to gather
data more than a year after their successful landing. The
Cassini–Huygens spacecraft entered Saturn’s orbit and sent
back breath-taking images of that planet’s rings and moons.
We launched MESSENGER to visit and map Mercury while
our eyes in the sky, including Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer,
continued to amaze us with images from the deepest reaches
of space. The X–43 flew nearly 10 times the speed of sound,
and we enabled cleaner air, safer flights, and numerous tech-
nology transfers to other government agencies and private
industry to improve the health, safety, and security of
humankind. With our international partners, we made suc-
cessful expedition missions to the International Space
Station, completing four years of continuous human pres-
ence, and we added to our constellation of Earth observing
satellites that monitor our fragile planet.
But, these triumphs were just the beginning.

The Vision for Space Exploration                                    Saturn’s moon Mimas is seen against the cool, blue-
On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush announced             streaked backdrop of Saturn’s northern hemisphere in this
A Renewed Spirit of Discovery: The President’s Vision for           picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft in November 2004.
U.S. Space Exploration, a new directive for the Nation’s            Shadows cast by the rings streak across the planet.

Tragedy, Triumph, and Transformation                                                                                            1
and where we are going. It is not a random collection of         Pending publication of the next NASA Strategic Plan, our
great ideas. It is a plan that lays out fundamental goals of     Agency direction will be based on the following framework
great importance for our Nation, and it embodies a strategy      supporting the Vision for Space Exploration:
of specific milestones that will move us forward in the years
and decades ahead if we are diligent in our pursuits.            • NASA’s overarching Agency goal is the fundamental goal
                                                                   of the Vision for Space Exploration—“…to advance U.S.
In June 2004, the President’s Commission on Implementation         scientific, security, and economic interests through a
of the United States Space Exploration Policy (Aldridge            robust space exploration program.”
Commission) presented its report to the President. The
Commission emphasized the crucial role that technological        • We will direct our efforts toward five National Objectives.
innovation, national and international partnerships, and orga-     Four of these come directly from the Vision for Space
nizational transformation must play if we are to implement         Exploration. The fifth National Objective affirms our con-
an affordable and sustainable space exploration program suc-       tinued commitment to understand and protect our home
cessfully. We are committed to making every change neces-          planet, Earth.
sary to ensure our success.                                      • We will pursue 18 long-term NASA Strategic Objectives
                                                                   to which all of our programs and resources will be tied.
                                                                 Our 2006 NASA Strategic Plan will reflect this framework.
Transforming NASA requires that we take the extraordinary        It also will be based on a set of strategic and capability
capabilities we have throughout the Agency and restructure       roadmaps currently being developed by national teams of
them to achieve the goals of the 21st century. This has been     experts from academia, industry, other government agencies,
a central challenge of our time together, but in less than a     and NASA.
year, we have streamlined our Headquarters organization
structure and begun transforming our culture to foster perma-    Stewards of the Dream
nent change and effect a positive, mission-driven culture
throughout the organization. Our senior leaders revalidated      Seventeen billion visits to our Web site over the last year are
NASA’s core values—Safety, the NASA Family, Excellence,          just one indicator of how interested and supportive the
and Integrity—and, to foster an environment of openness and      American people are of America’s space program. The
free-flowing communication, we continue to assess our lead-      NASA family is privileged to be the stewards of the people,
ership practices and develop comprehensive individual leader     to explore and discover on their behalf.
action plans for greater effectiveness throughout. We also       When Columbus made his voyages across the Atlantic in the
are cascading our values, goals, and objectives to every         15th and 16th centuries, his ships carried the inscription,
NASA employee through enhanced performance manage-               “Following the light of the sun, we left the old world.” In
ment strategies so the entire NASA family will be focused in     our time together, we, too, sailed toward the light of the sun
the same direction.                                              and left the old world behind. As I move on to other chal-
                                                                 lenges, I wish everyone in the NASA family the very best of
The New Age of Exploration:                                      voyages to come.
NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
                                                                 NASA is a great organization that is positioned to approach
As 2005 begins, our entire NASA family is focused on lead-       and manage the future, whatever comes. I will continue to
ing the Nation on a journey into the future with revitalized     follow with pride NASA’s journeys in the years to come with
vigor and energy. The first step in that journey is to return    a full heart and the knowledge that I am a proud member of
the Space Shuttle to flight, a near-term goal that will enable   the extended NASA family.
us to complete assembly of the Space Station, and to move
forward in understanding the challenges of long-duration
space flight by returning humans to the Moon for an extend-
ed stay. From that experience, and all that we will learn, we
will advance robotic and human exploration of Mars and
other destinations throughout the solar system.
To manage what lies ahead as we implement the Vision for
Space Exploration, we are making significant, on-going
changes to our organization’s planning processes. This docu-
ment, The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for
2005 and Beyond, is NASA’s commitment to making those
changes and to implementing the Vision for Space
Exploration. NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond estab-
lishes new NASA Strategic Objectives. It aligns with our
revised 2006 budget estimates, and we will reflect it in our
FY 2005 Performance and Accountability Report.

2                                                    The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
Pursuing National Objectives for Space Exploration

                                  NASA’s Guiding National Objectives
1.   Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and
2.   Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year
     2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.
3.   Develop innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructure both to explore and to support decisions
     about the destinations for human exploration.
4.   Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and
     economic interests.
5.   Study the Earth system from space and develop new space-based and related capabilities for this

 Astronaut Nancy Currie participates in a test with Robonaut, NASA’s dexterous robotic assistant, to evaluate human–robotic
 operations. NASA is developing a wide range of autonomous robotics that will conduct surveys in advance of human explo-
 ration, offer astronauts an extra set of “hands and eyes,” and conduct operations that would be hazardous to humans.

    Pursuing National Objectives
    for Space Exploration

Like the pioneers of flight in the last century, NASA             potent symbol of American democracy, a reminder of what
researchers and scientists cannot today identify all that the     the human spirit can achieve in a free society.
Nation will gain from space exploration in the future. They
are confident, however, that the return on the Nation’s invest-   To the Moon, Mars, and Beyond
ment will be great because the Vision for Space Exploration       Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, the Moon, offers a wealth
mandates a clear goal: “…to advance U.S. scientific, securi-      of important scientific data and a unique record of the early
ty, and economic interests through a robust space exploration     evolution of the solar system’s terrestrial planets and near-
program.”                                                         Earth cosmic environments that existed during the first bil-
To ensure that NASA remains focused and achieves this goal,       lion years of the solar system’s history. This record is
the Agency will direct all efforts and resources toward five      invaluable for reconstructing the period when the planets
National Objectives.                                              were formed. More important, by going to the Moon for
                                                                  extended periods of time, astronauts will learn how to work
A Human and Robotic Partnership                                   safely in an environment with low gravity, extreme tempera-
                                                                  tures, radiation, the absence of breathable air, and other con-
for Exploration                                                   ditions as a stepping stone to future planetary and space
Humans are driven by a quest for profound knowledge: How          exploration. Explorers also will determine if the Moon can
did the universe and this solar system form? How and where        provide resources for sustained space exploration.
did life begin? How far can humankind extend its reach into
the universe? Is there life elsewhere? NASA’s search for          Recent robotic missions, including the Mars exploration
answers to these questions already has led to extraordinary       rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, found evidence that Mars
scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs that       once had oceans and rivers of water—liquid water that might
are benefiting humankind as well as the Nation’s economy,         still exist in deep reservoirs. This evidence of water suggests
security, and scientific prestige. These achievements also are    that simple forms of life may have developed early in Mars’
fueling the drive to implement a sustained and affordable         history and may persist beneath the surface today. Human
human and robotic exploration program that will carry             exploration of Mars, including detailed geologic investiga-
explorers across the solar system and beyond.                     tions, will enhance NASA’s ability to achieve a key Agency
                                                                  mission: to search for life beyond Earth.
NASA views human and robotic explorers as partners in
achieving the goal of the Vision for Space Exploration. Over
the next three decades, NASA will send robotic missions to
the Moon, Mars, the moons of Jupiter, and other planetary
bodies in the outer solar system. These robotic explorers will
visit new worlds to obtain scientific data, demonstrate tech-
nology capabilities, identify space resources, and gather
information critical to maintaining the health and productivi-
ty of human explorers. Robotic missions also will serve as
testbeds for developing and testing the technologies that
eventually will carry human explorers beyond low Earth
orbit. In short, robots will serve as counterparts to human
explorers by offering an extra set of “hands and eyes,” pro-
viding sensing capabilities that surpass human senses, going
where humans cannot go, and bringing the universe back to
Earth in the form of stunning images and samples of many
kinds.                                                             These false-color visualizations of the Moon taken by the
                                                                   Galileo spacecraft in 1990 depict the spectral properties of
Human explorers ultimately will follow robotic explorers to        the lunar surface. The deeper blues show areas that are rel-
elevate capabilities and accelerate discovery. As the              atively rich in titanium, while the greens, yellows and light
President said, “We need to see and examine and touch for          oranges indicate basalts low in titanium but rich in iron and
ourselves.” Human explorers will provide unparalleled dex-         magnesium. The reds (deep orange in the right hand picture)
terity, versatility, breadth of knowledge and experience, and      are typically cratered highlands relatively poor in titanium,
                                                                   iron and magnesium. NASA will conduct extensive surveys of
quick, logical decision-making capabilities to augment and         the Moon to locate resources and determine the best landing
complement robotic explorers. They also will serve as a            sites for other robotic or human surface missions.

Pursuing National Objectives for Space Exploration                                                                             5
Challenging Technology Innovation                                with the Department of Defense, NASA is a full Federal part-
                                                                 ner in exploration and discovery initiatives. State and local
The Apollo, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station       governments, too, rely on and support NASA’s work, perhaps
programs identified technical challenges to long-duration        most prominently in education and environmental improve-
space exploration that must be overcome through new tech-        ments. NASA continues to seek opportunities to establish
nologies that support reasoned decision-making about future      new government partnerships while maintaining existing
exploration destinations and the feasibility, methodologies,     alliances.
and risks associated with space exploration. New technolo-
gies must ensure that subsystems are reusable and modular,       NASA also has a long history of working with the Nation’s
require less ground support and infrastructure, and be com-      education community at all levels. From awarding grants,
patible with enhanced in-space assembly and repair capabili-     supporting fellowships and university research consortia, and
ties. These innovative technologies will include robotic         conducting research at the Nation’s top universities to engag-
networks that can work cooperatively, cost-effective power       ing the next generation of explorers and researchers in math-
generators for long duration missions, enhanced space com-       ematics and science classrooms everywhere, NASA provides
munication technologies that address the needs of spacecraft     scientific content, advanced technological tools, and supple-
operating in both near-Earth and deep-space regions, and         mental educational services as part of an education pipeline
methodologies for achieving precise, reliable, and global        that extends from elementary through secondary education
access to the Moon and other destinations from orbit and         and beyond. NASA also partners with national, state, and
from other planetary surfaces through the use of advanced        local teacher and education associations and Boards of
mobility systems.                                                Education to meet the needs of teachers and students.

Promoting Partnerships                                           NASA’s partnerships with industry have resulted in many of
                                                                 the discoveries and milestones in NASA’s history. While
Exploration and discovery fuel economic, social, and intel-      NASA benefits from the expertise, materials, and compo-
lectual growth and accelerate the development of science and     nents provided by large and small companies, the Agency’s
technologies that are important to the world’s economy and       partner industries benefit economically from collaborating
national security. Partnerships provide opportunities to         with NASA. Industrial partnerships also encourage healthy
leverage resources. They create venues for research and tech-    competition, demonstrate and enhance the appropriate role of
nology to be matured and transferred to government and pri-      the Federal government, and often provide economic benefits
vate entrepreneurs, and they provide unparalleled educational    to small and disadvantaged businesses.
opportunities. Together, NASA and the Agency’s partners can
accomplish more than any one entity could achieve alone.         Focusing On Earth
NASA has a long history of collaboration with the space and      Throughout the last several decades, NASA has used space
research agencies of other nations. The International Space      technology to understand Earth, the Sun, and the powerful
Station draws on the resources and scientific and engineering    links between the two. Using space-based observations, the
expertise of 16 nations. Since the Space Shuttle was ground-     Agency provided essential data enabling scientists to learn
ed after the Columbia accident in February 2003, automated       how the El Niño–La Niña cycle works, gain new insights
Russian Progress vehicles have re-supplied the two-person        into Antarctic ozone depletion, track the dramatic decrease in
Station crew as needed, and Russian Soyuz vehicles have          sea ice cover in Earth’s Arctic region, and characterize the
transported crews safely and reliably to and from the Station.   present state of the Earth–Sun system. Having pioneered
A similarly extraordinary international partnership with         space-based remote sensing, NASA and its partners recently
Europe contributed to the success of the Cassini–Huygens         completed deployment of the first comprehensive Earth
mission to Saturn, and the SOHO mission to observe the           Observing System, and NASA’s goal is to continue using the
Sun. In fact, nearly all NASA Earth observing missions           view from space to study the Earth system and improve pre-
include substantial international participation. For example,    diction of Earth system changes.
the Global Earth Observation System of Systems includes
over 50 nations and more than 30 international research and      NASA will develop new space-based technology to monitor
environmental forecasting organizations. And, NASA also          the major interactions of the land, oceans, atmosphere, ice,
participates actively in international groups like the           and life that comprise the Earth system. In the years ahead,
International Civil Aviation Organization, which develops        NASA’s fleet will evolve into human-made constellations of
global policies governing commercial flight.                     smart satellites that can be reconfigured based on the chang-
                                                                 ing needs of science and technology. From there, researchers
NASA’s partnerships with other government agencies have          envision an intelligent and integrated observation network
advanced science and research and ensured that technologies      comprised of sensors deployed to vantage points from the
emanating from NASA’s work are transferred to organiza-          Earth’s subsurface to deep space. This “sensorweb” will pro-
tions that can use them for the benefit of all. From sharing     vide timely, on-demand data and analysis to users who can
NASA satellite air quality data with the Environmental           enable practical benefits for scientific research, national poli-
Protection Agency, developing new technologies for safer         cymaking, economic growth, natural hazard mitigation, and
flight with the Federal Aviation Administration, identifying     the exploration of other planets in this solar system and
biological contaminants for the Department of Homeland           beyond.
Security, to sharing information and leveraging resources

6                                                    The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
Charting a New Course
1.   Undertake robotic and human lunar exploration to further science and to develop and test new
     approaches, technologies, and systems to enable and support sustained human and robotic exploration
     of Mars and more distant destinations. The first robotic mission will be no later than 2008.
2.   Conduct robotic exploration of Mars to search for evidence of life, to understand the history of the solar
     system, and to prepare for future human exploration.
3.   Conduct robotic exploration across the solar system for scientific purposes and to support human
     exploration. In particular, explore the moons of Jupiter, asteroids, and other bodies to search for evi-
     dence of life, to understand the history of the solar system, and to search for resources.
4.   Conduct advanced telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around the
5.   Explore the universe to understand its origin, structure, evolution, and destiny.
6.   Return the Space Shuttle to flight and focus its use on completion of the International Space Station,
     complete assembly of the ISS, and retire the Space Shuttle in 2010, following completion of its role in
     ISS assembly. Conduct ISS activities consistent with U.S. obligations to ISS partners.
7.   Develop a new crew exploration vehicle to provide crew transportation for missions beyond low Earth
     orbit. First test flight to be by the end of this decade, with operational capability for human exploration
     no later than 2014.
8.   Focus research and use of the ISS on supporting space exploration goals, with emphasis on under-
     standing how the space environment affects human health and capabilities, and developing counter-
9.   Conduct the first extended human expedition to the lunar surface as early as 2015, but no later than
10. Conduct human expeditions to Mars after acquiring adequate knowledge about the planet using robotic
    missions and after successfully demonstrating sustained human exploration missions to the Moon.
11. Develop and demonstrate power generation, propulsion, life support, and other key capabilities required
    to support more distant, more capable, and/or longer duration human and robotic exploration of Mars
    and other destinations.
12. Provide advanced aeronautical technologies to meet the challenges of next generation systems in avia-
    tion, for civilian and scientific purposes, in our atmosphere and in atmospheres of other worlds.
13. Use NASA missions and other activities to inspire and motivate the Nation’s students and teachers, to
    engage and educate the public, and to advance the scientific and technological capabilities of the
14. Advance scientific knowledge of the Earth system through space-based observation, assimilation of new
    observations, and development and deployment of enabling technologies, systems, and capabilities,
    including those with the potential to improve future operational systems.
15. Explore the Sun–Earth system to understand the Sun and its effects on Earth, the solar system, and the
    space environmental conditions that will be experienced by human explorers, and demonstrate tech-
    nologies that can improve future operational systems.
16. Pursue opportunities for international participation to support U.S. space exploration goals.
17. Pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting International
    Space Station and exploration missions beyond Earth orbit. Separate to the maximum extent practical
    crew from cargo.
18. Use U.S. commercial space capabilities and services to fulfill NASA requirements to the maximum extent
    practical and continue to involve, or increase the involvement of, the U.S. private sector in design and
    development of space systems.

    Charting a New Course

This generation inherited great legacies from the exploratory   Strategic Objective 2: Conduct robotic exploration of
voyages and discoveries of earlier centuries, and NASA’s        Mars to search for evidence of life, to understand the
success in achieving the Vision for Space Exploration will      history of the solar system, and to prepare for future
bequeath to future generations a similar legacy of achieve-     human exploration.
ment and inspiration. Because the purpose of exploration is
to understand the unknown, the precise benefits of space        The presence of liquid water is the key to the presence of life
exploration defy calculation, and planning must remain fluid    beyond Earth. The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and
and dynamic to adapt to exciting diversions and new direc-      Opportunity, recently found evidence that water had been
tions. To ensure that NASA pursues the Vision for Space         present on the Red Planet—in the rocks and soil on the floor
Exploration in a systematic, yet flexible manner, the Agency    of Gusev crater and in standing pools of water that once
has established 18 NASA Strategic Objectives to guide the       existed in Meridiani Planum. Based on these discoveries,
Agency’s course in 2005 and beyond. The first 15 are related    NASA will pursue the search for water and life on Mars
directly to NASA program initiatives, and a specific Mission    aggressively. NASA’s robotic explorers will discern the evo-
Directorate will champion each. The final three are cross-      lution of Mars and characterize the Red Planet, including its
cutting support objectives. They do not have unique per-        past and present geology, interior, climate, environment, and
formance measures or budgets. However, their successful         its biological potential. From this information, NASA will
achievement is critical to NASA’s achievement of the Vision     determine the habitability of Mars and determine whether it
for Space Exploration.                                          has ever harbored life.
                                                                NASA’s exploration of Mars involves a methodical succes-
Strategic Objective 1: Undertake robotic and human              sion of orbiting and surface laboratories over the next two
lunar exploration to further science and to develop             decades in preparation for future human missions. The Mars
and test new approaches, technologies, and systems              Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey, two currently opera-
to enable and support sustained human and robotic               tional orbiters, have improved estimates of the abundance of
exploration of Mars and more distant destinations.              water within the uppermost surface layer, atmosphere, and
The first robotic mission will be no later than 2008.           icecaps of Mars. Odyssey is measuring the galactic cosmic
                                                                radiation background from Mars’s orbit, and it is likely that
As a stepping-stone to Mars and beyond, NASA’s first desti-     solar and cosmic radiation measurements will be conducted
nation for robotic and human exploration is the Moon. Only      from the Mars surface later in the decade. The Mars
a few days from Earth, the Moon contains a 4.5 billion-year     Reconnaissance Orbiter, to be launched this year, will use
record of the origin of the Earth-Moon system and the           subsurface sounding radar to search below the surface of
processes that formed the inner planets. It also provides a     Mars for evidence of water. The Orbiter also will character-
convenient location in which to develop and test a variety of   ize atmospheric processes over a full Mars year and provide
exploration tools and techniques. NASA will advance lunar
science and use the Moon to: test and develop hardware,
software, and various systems and components to determine       Crews work on the Mars
how they operate in harsh lunar and space environments;         Reconnaissance Orbiter,
provide the opportunity to understand how crews adapt and       which is scheduled to
perform in a partial-gravity environment; test the autonomy     launch in summer 2005. In
of essential systems before they are deployed to more distant   this photo, taken in January
destinations; test and enhance interactions between human       2005, the Orbiter has
explorers and robots; and explore the possibility of using      already been fitted with five
                                                                of its six primary science
resources already present on the Moon for power generation,     instruments, both solar
propulsion, and life support. NASA will begin its lunar         arrays, and its high-gain
research and testbed program with a series of robotic mis-      antenna. The Orbiter will
sions beginning with a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to be       begin a series of global
launched in 2008.                                               mapping, regional survey,
                                                                and targeted observations
                                                                from a near-polar, low-alti-
                                                                tude orbit, analyzing miner-
                                                                als and searching the shal-
                                                                low subsurface for water.

Charting a New Course                                                                                                        9
                                                                    organic materials in the deep interior of a short-period comet
                                                                    to determine if comets might have transported water to Earth
                                                                    from the outer reaches of our solar system. Stardust—a
                                                                    longer-term Discovery mission—will return comet dust sam-
                                                                    ples to Earth in 2006, and Dawn will visit the two largest
                                                                    asteroids to shed light on the formation of the solar system.
                                                                    Other missions are long-term and more complex, such as
                                                                    long-duration exploration of the outer planets and their
                                                                    moons. The twin Voyager spacecraft and Galileo found
                                                                    evidence that planet-wide oceans likely lie beneath the icy
                                                                    surfaces of Jupiter’s moons, particularly Europa, suggesting
                                                                    that life could have developed—and might still exist—on
                                                                    one or more of these moons today. The exploration of
                                                                    Europa was identified as the highest “flagship” mission in
                                                                    the National Research Council’s 2003 solar system decadal
                                                                    study, New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated
                                                                    Exploration Strategy.
                                                                    As part of the New Frontiers program, a mission to Pluto in
                                                                    2006 will examine the Pluto–Charon system and Kuiper Belt,
                                                                    which may retain the best records of the materials present in
 The solar system’s largest moon, Ganymede, is shown                the original solar nebula. The planets, moons, and ancient
 alongside Jupiter in this picture taken by the Cassini space-      icy bodies that reside far from the Sun are thought to be a
 craft in 2000. Cassini arrived at its primary target, Saturn, in   repository of relatively pristine materials from this time and,
 2004.                                                              therefore, hold keys that can help unlock the mysteries of the
                                                                    solar system’s origins.
the first definitive measurements of local mineralogy in the
search for possible habitats for life.                              Strategic Objective 4: Conduct advanced telescope
                                                                    searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environ-
In 2007, the Phoenix Mars Scout mission will land at Mars’          ments around the stars.
ice-rich northern latitudes to measure climate, chemistry, and
organics. Subsequently, the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory            Thanks to NASA’s eyes in the sky, including Hubble,
will start a series of missions to explore a vast terrain on        Chandra, and Spitzer, over the past decade, astronomers dis-
Mars’ surface for evidence of organic materials and other sig-      covered and documented well over 100 extra-solar planets,
natures of past and present life, returning samples for study       new worlds, and the discovery that the Sun is not the only
in Earth laboratories. By the end of the next decade, NASA          star anchoring a solar system, giant steps forward in the
will have a complete inventory of critical environmental            search for extraterrestrial life. Within this decade, NASA
parameters, local hazards, and potential resources to support       will launch powerful space-based telescopes that can infer
future human exploration of Mars.                                   the presence of newly-formed planets circling young stars,
                                                                    count the planets around thousands of far-off stars, and detect
Strategic Objective 3: Conduct robotic exploration                  planets just a few times larger than Earth orbiting nearby
across the solar system for scientific purposes and to              stars. The Space Interferometry Mission will be capable of
support human exploration. In particular, explore the               detecting and measuring the mass of near Earth-sized plane-
moons of Jupiter, asteroids, and other bodies to                    tary bodies orbiting nearby stars. The Kepler mission,
search for evidence of life, to understand the history              planned for launch in 2007, will provide the first opportunity
                                                                    to learn how common it is for a star to have an orbiting
of the solar system, and to search for resources.                   Earth-sized planet. And, the James Webb Space Telescope, a
In the coming decades, spacecraft will fan out to destinations      large, infrared telescope, will be launched in 2011 to study
from the innermost planets to the edge of the Sun’s influence       the earliest galaxies and stars.
to learn more about the history of the solar system and search
for signs of life and usable resources. NASA’s Discovery            The results from these telescopes will be factored into the
Program will continue to support highly focused missions            design of an advanced space telescope, the Terrestrial Planet
that are a key element of the Agency’s current and future           Finder, to be launched in the next decade. The Terrestrial
exploration program. Discovery Program missions have                Planet Finder will be capable of finding Earth-like planets
included: the Mars Pathfinder and Lunar Prospector mis-             and detecting the chemical composition of their atmospheres.
sions; the recent Genesis mission that returned samples of          If NASA finds terrestrial planets orbiting nearby stars, the
solar winds to Earth; and the MESSENGER mission                     Agency can tackle two even more ambitious objectives:
launched in August 2004 to conduct a comprehensive geo-             determining which planets have conditions suitable for life
logical, geophysical, and geochemical survey of Mercury.            and which, if any, show actual signs of past or present life.
The Deep Impact mission will investigate volatile and

10                                                      The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
                                                                 observatories will blaze new paths to answer old questions
                                                                 about black holes, the “Big Bang,” and dark energy. First,
                                                                 the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna will probe space and
                                                                 time at the forming edges of black holes by listening to the
                                                                 sounds of vibrating space-time. It will measure gravitational
                                                                 radiation generated by a variety of astrophysical phenomena,
                                                                 including the effect of dark energy on the universe. Next,
                                                                 Constellation X (with 100 times the sensitivity of the
                                                                 Chandra X-ray Observatory) will measure X-ray light result-
                                                                 ing from the motions of the plasma and distortions of space
                                                                 and time near the black hole. It will reveal the nature of dark
                                                                 matter and dark energy by observing their effects on the for-
                                                                 mation of clusters of galaxies. In addition, a number of
                                                                 medium-size missions will focus on understanding dark
                                                                 energy, dark matter, and the cosmic background.

                                                                 Strategic Objective 6: Return the Space Shuttle to
                                                                 flight and focus its use on completion of the
                                                                 International Space Station, complete assembly of
 This Chandra image shows two vast cavities, each 600,000        the ISS, and retire the Space Shuttle in 2010, follow-
 light years in diameter, in the hot, X-ray emitting gas that    ing completion of its role in ISS assembly. Conduct
 pervades the galaxy cluster MS 0735. The cavities appear        ISS activities consistent with U.S. obligations to ISS
 on opposite sides of a large galaxy at the center of the
 cluster, which indicates that a gigantic eruption produced      partners.
 by the galaxy’s supermassive black hole created the struc-      The Space Shuttle’s chief purpose over the next several years
 tures. The next generation of X-ray observatories will be far
 more powerful than Chandra, revealing structuers in the         will be to support assembly of the International Space
 universe that are currently hidden.                             Station.
                                                                 Space Shuttle Discovery is being readied for return to flight
                                                                 this year, and all three orbiters are going through processing
Strategic Objective 5: Explore the universe to under-            at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where enhanced safety
stand its origin, structure, evolution, and destiny.             modifications are being made to the Shuttle’s external tanks
In their attempts to understand how space, time, and matter      and Thermal Protection Systems. When Discovery lifts off,
are connected, Albert Einstein and his successors made three     it will have a new multi-functional electronic display system,
predictions based on their research. First, space is expanding   also called a “glass cockpit,” and enhanced vehicle monitor-
from a “Big Bang.” Second, space and time can tie them-          ing during flight, including 88 wing leading-edge sensors to
selves into contorted knots called “Black Holes” where time      monitor acceleration, impact, and temperature, and a digital
actually comes to a halt. And, third, space itself contains
some kind of energy that is pulling the universe apart. Today,
scientists strongly believe that all three are true. Still,
Einstein’s theories raised more confounding questions: What
powered the “Big Bang”? What happens to space, time, and
matter at the edge of a black hole? And, what is the mysteri-
ous dark energy that is pulling the universe apart? NASA
researchers are leading the way to answering these com-
pelling questions.
Gravity Probe B, launched in 2004, is testing Einstein’s pre-
diction that the rotation of the Earth drags space and time
around the Earth into a mild version of the tremendous verti-
cal spin near a spinning black hole. The Swift Explorer, also
launched in 2004, will study gamma ray bursts believed to
result from the stellar explosions and mergers that create
black holes. And, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space
Telescope (GLAST) will measure gamma rays emitted by a
variety of energetic objects like quasars, galaxies in which      Crews slowly moved an External Tank into the awaiting
large quantities of gas are falling onto a super-massive black    arms of a transporter in the Vehicle Assembly Building at
hole that occupies the galaxy center, releasing huge amounts      Kennedy Space Center in October 2004. The Tank then was
of gravitational energy. GLAST will map the sky in one            transferred to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New
day—a task that previously took one year to complete.             Orleans, where its foam was replaced with an improved
                                                                  bipod fitting. Afterward, the External Tank was returned to
As part of NASA’s Beyond Einstein program, a pair of great        Kennedy, where it waits for return to flight.

Charting a New Course                                                                                                       11
camera to document the external tank as it separates from the
The International Space Station is the largest international
cooperative science and technology project in which the
United States has been involved. When complete, it will
support robust research by all partner nations through at least
2016. NASA will complete assembly of the International
Space Station by the end of the decade. The Agency is
examining configurations for the Space Station that meet the
needs of both the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA’s
international partners using as few Shuttle flights as possible.
This assessment is critical to allowing NASA to continue
work on Space Station assembly safely and retire the Shuttle
as planned to make way for the Crew Exploration Vehicle
In 2010, the Space Shuttle—after nearly 30 years of
service—will be retired.

Strategic Objective 7: Develop a new crew explo-
ration vehicle to provide crew transportation for mis-
sions beyond low Earth orbit. First test flight to be by
the end of this decade, with operational capability for             Astronauts use drilling equipment in this artist concept of
human exploration no later than 2014.                               future lunar exploration. The ability to use in-situ resources
NASA will develop a new CEV to transport crews beyond               is a key capability for future human lunar and planetary
low Earth orbit and back again. The CEV will be designed to
serve multiple functions and operate in a variety of environ-
                                 ments. The overall crew           research facilities are delivered to the International Space
                                 transportation system that        Station, the Station will emerge as a unique platform for con-
                                 will evolve from the basic        ducting experiments related to human health and perform-
                                 CEV design will enable            ance and developing and testing life support technologies.
                                 ascent and re-entry into          Larger Station crews will enable a greater range and frequen-
                                 Earth’s atmosphere, Earth         cy of operations. NASA will test countermeasures to com-
                                 orbit, transit to deep space,     pensate for the effects of space on human physiology, and
                                 and operations at the             astronauts will use the Station to practice autonomous med-
                                 Moon, Mars, or other              ical care that will be essential for human exploration far from
                                 exploration sites. Initial        Earth. At the same time, NASA will use the Station to evalu-
                                 high-level milestones for         ate the performance in microgravity of selected new compo-
                                 this project include, a CEV       nents, subsystems, and systems necessary for advanced life
                                 demonstration flight in           support.
                                 2008 to validate key CEV
                                 systems and subsystems, a         By 2008, researchers will conduct ground- and flight-based
                                 CEV flight without crew in        studies that support the development of measures to prevent
                                 2011, and a CEV flight            or minimize microgravity-induced bone loss and muscle
                                 with crew in 2014.                atrophy. NASA research on radiation will focus on establish-
                                                                   ing acceptable levels of risk to crew members, improving
                                   Strategic Objective 8:          the models used to predict radiation levels and effects, and
                                   Focus research and use          developing implementation strategies for operational counter-
                                   of the ISS on support-          measures, including radiation shielding, nutritional supple-
 Expedition 10 Commander           ing space exploration           ments, and pharmacological intervention. By 2008, NASA
 and Science Officer Leroy         goals, with emphasis            will reduce the uncertainties in estimating radiation risk by
 Chiao exercises with the                                          one-half and demonstrate the feasibility of radiation-shield-
 short bar for the Interim         on understanding how            ing multifunctional structures. In addition, NASA will devel-
 Resistive Exercise Device to      the space environment           op advanced life support systems with reduced size, weight,
 help maintain his upper body      affects human health            and complexity that require less power and can save consum-
 strength. NASA is using the       and capabilities, and
 Station to develop and test                                       ables. The Agency also will develop advanced extra-vehicu-
 countermeasures, such as          developing countermea-          lar activity systems, including a protective suit optimized for
 exercise techniques, to keep      sures.                          use on planetary surfaces. By 2010, NASA will identify,
 astronauts healthy during                                         develop, and test technologies to reduce total mass require-
 long-duration space flight.       After the Space Shuttle
                                   returns to flight and major     ments for life support systems. The Agency also will devel-

12                                                    The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
op by 2010 systems to enable production of life support
consumables from simulated available resources.

Strategic Objective 9: Conduct the first extended
human expedition to the lunar surface as early as
2015, but no later than 2020.
NASA will return humans to the Moon by developing the
technological capabilities necessary to sustain extended
human space exploration. These capabilities include the crit-
ical system-of-systems that will encompass robotic orbiters
and rovers, crew transportation, cargo transportation, surface
exploration vehicles, in-space and ground support, and other
technologies. The development process will include a wide
range of technology and systems demonstrations, therefore
NASA is using a competitive process with industry-led teams
submitting proposals to develop and test different concepts.

Strategic Objective 10: Conduct human expeditions                  Tucked under the wing of NASA’s B–52B aircraft, the X–43
to Mars after acquiring adequate knowledge about                   hypersonic research vehicle performed a captive carry eval-
the planet using robotic missions and after success-               uation flight on September 27, 2004. It is powered by a
                                                                   revolutionary supersonic-combustion ramjet, or “scramjet.”
fully demonstrating sustained human exploration mis-               Inset: The X–43’s rocket ignited moments after release from
sions to the Moon.                                                 the B–52B, setting the vehicle on a record-setting flight
                                                                   where it reached nearly Mach 9.8 (7,000 miles an hour).
NASA will determine when to conduct the first human mis-           NASA is developing scramjet technology to carry vehicles
sion to Mars based on numerous criteria, including: discover-      from Earth to orbit without the heavy oxygen tanks carried
ies from robotic Mars missions and long-duration human             by currently-used launch vehicles. Credit: large photo, T.
exploration of the Moon; technology readiness (e.g., utiliza-      Tschida.
tion of in-situ resources, demonstrations of habitat proto-
types, improved in-space assembly and repair capabilities,
and extended power generation); the ability to sustain            Strategic Objective 11: Develop and demonstrate
healthy, productive crews in the hazardous Martian environ-       power generation, propulsion, life support, and other
ment; and available resources. In addition, NASA will con-        key capabilities required to support more distant,
sider the effectiveness and readiness of ground/surface opera-
tions and supporting systems prior to conducting a human
                                                                  more capable, and/or longer duration human and
expedition to Mars.                                               robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations.
                                                                  NASA will transform the Agency’s space exploration capa-
                                                                  bilities by investing resources in technical challenge areas,
                                                                  including high-energy power and propulsion; in-space trans-
                                                                  portation; advanced telescopes and observatories; communi-
                                                                  cation and navigation; robotic access to planetary surfaces;
                                                                  human planetary landing systems; human health and support
                                                                  systems; human exploration systems and mobility;
                                                                  autonomous systems and robotics; transformational space-
                                                                  port/range; scientific instruments/sensors; in-situ resource
                                                                  utilization; advanced modeling, simulation, and analysis; sys-
                                                                  tems engineering cost/risk analysis; and nanotechnology.
                                                                  A major focus of NASA’s current research is in-space use of
                                                                  nuclear power to meet the higher power needs of future mis-
                                                                  sions. NASA and the Department of Energy are advancing
                                                                  NASA’s nuclear systems program, Project Prometheus, coop-
                                                                  eratively. NASA researchers hope that enhanced power sys-
                                                                  tems will enable future spacecraft to use instruments of
                                                                  greater sensitivity and resolution than those carried on other
                                                                  missions to distant planets. These advanced instruments
                                                                  would include high-powered radar to penetrate deep into the
 Exploration of other planets may involve winged flight vehi-     sub-surfaces of planets and moons, more capable cameras to
 cles, such as this Mars flyer concept, to bridge the capabili-   map entire moons, and laser technology to measure topogra-
 ties gap between orbital and surface vehicles. NASA is           phy. Once proven for in-space use, these nuclear systems
 researching how to design vehicles that operate in different     also would be used to supply power, and perhaps propulsion,
 and unique environments.                                         that would reduce travel time to the Moon and other planets.

Charting a New Course                                                                                                       13
                                                                  complicated, and the implementation risks are high. The
                                                                  Federal government’s role in this context will be to enable
                                                                  necessary changes and lessen the negative impacts evidenced
                                                                  by increased restructuring of airlines, disruption of services,
                                                                  and reduction in benefits and stability for airline workers.
                                                                  Dealing effectively with this transformation requires organi-
                                                                  zations that can provide impartial and multi-faceted capabili-
                                                                  ties in areas like capacity, safety, and systems research and
                                                                  development, and that can negotiate and co-develop solutions
                                                                  with industry, academia, other government agencies, as well
                                                                  as the international community. NASA is a unique organiza-
                                                                  tion capable of meeting these demands.

                                                                  Strategic Objective 13: Use NASA missions and
                                                                  other activities to inspire and motivate the Nation’s
                                                                  students and teachers, to engage and educate the
 Educator astronaut Barbara Morgan interacts with students        public, and to advance the scientific and technologi-
 at an Explorer School. Educator astronauts are the direct        cal capabilities of the nation.
 link between NASA and students, sharing the excitement of
 discovery with the next generation of scientists, engineers,     NASA will continue to inspire and motivate the next genera-
 and explorers.                                                   tion of explorers through the Agency’s visible research,
                                                                  enabling technologies, and exciting discoveries. As noted by
                                                                  the Aldridge Commission, the Vision for Space Exploration
These same nuclear technologies also would provide energy         offers “an extraordinary opportunity to stimulate mathemat-
sources for tools, instruments, and lunar and planetary sur-      ics, science, and engineering excellence for America’s
face roving vehicles to enable extended human and robotic         students and teachers.” To achieve this goal, education pro-
operations.                                                       grams are an integral part of every major NASA activity.

Strategic Objective 12: Provide advanced aeronauti-               NASA has initiated and/or enhanced many activities, includ-
cal technologies to meet the challenges of next gen-              ing: working with governments, industries, and professional
eration systems in aviation, for civilian and scientific          organizations to integrate science, technology, engineering,
                                                                  and mathematics education initiatives, internships, and other
purposes, in our atmosphere and in atmospheres of                 activities into training and development programs and out-
other worlds.                                                     reach initiatives; creating a university-based “virtual space
For almost 80 years, NASA and its predecessor agency have         academy” to train the next generation of technical workforce;
helped define today’s aircraft and promote the rapid growth       and fully implementing the NASA Explorer Schools program
of aviation through innovation and advanced technology.           and the NASA Educator Astronaut program. NASA’s
Today, air transportation is crucial to the Nation’s economic     Science and Technology Scholarship Program links scholar-
health, national security, and overall quality of life, but the   ships with service at NASA Centers to help the Agency
U.S. air transportation system is reaching the limits of its      attract top students to the workforce, and NASA Explorer
capacity and facing new challenges in maintaining safety,         Institutes initiative links NASA to the informal education
security, and a healthy environment. To overcome these
problems, NASA is pursuing advanced technologies that will         The Terra satellite
increase air system safety and security, reduce aircraft noise     imaged this phyto-
and emissions, and increase the capacity and efficiency of the     plankton bloom off
National Airspace System.                                          the coast of
                                                                   Argentina in
Compared to the 1997 baseline, NASA’s technology innova-           January 2005. Terra
tion goals in aeronautics will enable significant improve-         is one of several
ments in aviation over the next several years: a 70-percent        NASA Earth obser-
reduction in the aircraft fatal accident rate by 2010; doubling    vation satellites that
                                                                   provide a compre-
the National Airspace System’s capacity by 2009; and a 10-         hensive view of
decibel reduction in aircraft noise by 2009. NASA technolo-        Earth’s system,
gies also will reduce the National Airspace System vulnera-        from the surface to
bility by 35 percent compared to 2003.                             the upper atmos-
                                                                   phere. Additional
More important, however, the current market is forcing trans-      satellites, including
formation in all major facets of the National Airspace             Cloudsat and
System: aircraft systems, ground and air operations, automa-       Calipso, will
tion and control, and how transportation modes (e.g., plane,       enhance current
                                                                   observation capa-
car, truck, rail) come together to maximize the System’s effi-     bilities.
ciency and capacity. The transformation options are

14                                                    The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
                                                                  NASA already is moving to develop and deploy the next
                                                                  generation of Earth observing capabilities. In 2005, Cloudsat
                                                                  and CALIPSO will add their innovative three-dimensional
                                                                  view to the existing satellites to form the “A-train” of
                                                                  observers, providing a complete picture of Earth’s atmos-
                                                                  phere. A new slate of NASA satellites capable of measuring
                                                                  atmospheric carbon dioxide, soil moisture, and ocean surface
                                                                  salinity and topography will be the next wave of climate
                                                                  change research capabilities. Ultimately, NASA and the
                                                                  Agency’s partners will create an integrated “sensorweb” of
                                                                  satellites in low, medium, and higher orbits to enhance scien-
                                                                  tists’ abilities to predict climate, weather, and natural haz-
                                                                  ards. For example, working with the Agency’s American and
                                                                  international partners, NASA will develop predictive capabil-
                                                                  ities within the next 10 years that will enable: 10-year or
                                                                  longer climate forecasts; three-day air quality forecasts for
                                                                  ozone and aerosols; 10- to 100-year forecasts of carbon diox-
                                                                  ide and methane concentrations with greater than 50-percent
 The SOHO spacecraft imaged three significant coronal             improvement in confidence; seasonal precipitation forecasts
 mass ejections in late December 2004. Coronal mass ejec-
 tions bombard Earth with energetic particles, disrupting         with greater than 75-percent accuracy at tens of kilometers of
 electronics and communications and exposing astronauts in        resolution; and seven to 10-day weather forecasts with 75-
 Earth orbit to higher levels of radiation. NASA is finding       percent accuracy.
 ways to better predict space weather and to prepare for
 violent space weather events that could pose a threat to         NASA’s unique view of the world from space is essential to
 astronauts in space and technology on Earth.                     the continued success of the Climate Change Research pro-
                                                                  gram, the Global Earth Observation program. NASA will
community—science centers, museums, planetaria, and other         continue advancing the Nation’s use of this view to enhance
organizations. NASA also works actively with industry,            economic, security, and environmental stewardship and, in so
professional organizations, and the media to engage the pub-      doing, demonstrate techniques for studying a planet in its
lic in understanding why space exploration is vital to            entirety—techniques that researchers can employ in the
America’s scientific, economic, and security interests.           future to explore other planetary bodies and conduct the
                                                                  search for life beyond Earth.
NASA also is increasing the priority of, and emphasis on,
teacher training by providing for teachers the tools they need    Strategic Objective 15: Explore the Sun-Earth system
today to teach the Nation’s researchers and explorers of          to understand the Sun and its effects on Earth, the
tomorrow. With its partners, the Agency is creating extraordi-    solar system, and the space environmental condi-
nary technology enhancements that will make learning more         tions that will be experienced by human explorers,
available and exciting for all students, including those with     and demonstrate technologies that can improve
auditory, visual, physical, and intellectual challenges. These    future operational systems.
technologies will help students, educators, families, and indi-
viduals around the world explore new worlds of learning           Life on Earth prospers in a biosphere sustained by energy
while pursuing their own journeys of personal discovery.          from the Sun, but powerful flares and coronal mass ejections
                                                                  arriving at Earth can disrupt telecommunications and naviga-
Strategic Objective 14: Advance scientific knowl-                 tion, threaten astronauts, damage satellites, and disable elec-
edge of the Earth system through space-based                      tric power grids. As society becomes increasingly dependent
observation, assimilation of new observations, and                on space-based technologies, the vulnerability to space
development and deployment of enabling technolo-                  weather effects on Earth, and on other planets, becomes more
gies, systems, and capabilities, including those with             apparent, and the need to understand and mitigate its effects
                                                                  becomes more urgent. NASA’s goal is to understand the
the potential to improve future operational systems.              causes of space weather by studying the Sun, the heliosphere,
NASA’s ability to study Earth from space has given humani-        and planetary environments as a single, connected system.
ty new tools with which to understand and protect their home      This will be achieved by pursuing two groups of missions.
planet. Having completed the first phase of the Earth
Observing System, the Agency is extracting scientific knowl-      The Solar-Terrestrial Probe missions will address fundamen-
edge of the Earth’s carbon, water, and energy cycles from the     tal science questions about the physics of space plasmas and
system’s data and sharing the information with NASA’s part-       the flow of mass and energy through the solar system. For
ner Federal agencies like the National Oceanic and                example, Solar–B, a Japanese-led partnership mission, will
Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency                 be launched in 2006 to observe how magnetic fields on the
Management Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration,           Sun’s surface interact with the Sun’s outer atmosphere,
and the Environmental Protection Agency, enabling them to         which extends millions of miles into space. The STEREO
provide essential services to the Nation.                         mission, also to be launched in 2006, will determine the evo-
                                                                  lution of solar disturbances from the Sun’s surface to Earth’s

Charting a New Course                                                                                                        15
                                                                 NASA values and seeks Agency partnerships with interna-
                                                                 tional, Federal, state, and local government agencies, indus-
                                                                 try, and academia that can help the Agency achieve its
                                                                 National Objectives. Humankind will benefit from the coop-
                                                                 eration of nations that share expertise and leverage resources
                                                                 to develop space systems and other technologies that address
                                                                 universal scientific, security, and commercial interests.

                                                                 Strategic Objective 17: Pursue commercial opportu-
                                                                 nities for providing transportation and other services
                                                                 supporting International Space Station and explo-
                                                                 ration missions beyond Earth orbit. Separate to the
                                                                 maximum extent practical crew from cargo.
                                                                 NASA will work with the Agency’s partners to create a
 The blackness of space provides the backdrop for this           mixed fleet for International Space Station cargo re-supply.
 scene of a Russian Soyuz TMA-4 spacecraft docked to the         NASA also will seek commercial transport and other services
 Station’s Zarya functional cargo block nadir port in
 September 2004. While the Shuttle is grounded, the              both for the International Space Station and for missions
 Russians have delivered crew and cargo to the Station. In       beyond low Earth orbit. In particular, the Agency will seek
 the future, a combination of vehicles, including those pro-     existing or new commercial launch vehicles to transport
 vided by other international partners and commercial            cargo to the Station and, potentially, to the Moon and
 providers, will provide transportation to and from the          beyond. NASA also anticipates developing a significant
 Station.                                                        number of new partnerships to help design, develop, and
                                                                 demonstrate the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
orbit. And, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, to be
                                                                 The Aldridge Commission recommended in its June 2004
launched in 2011, will explore the fundamental physical
                                                                 report that private industry play a larger role in space opera-
processes responsible for the transfer of energy from the
                                                                 tions, particularly in accessing low Earth orbit. Consistent
solar wind to Earth’s magnetosphere and for the explosive
                                                                 with this recommendation, in September 2004, NASA issued
release of energy during solar flares.
                                                                 a Request for Information for commercial cargo re-supply
The Living with a Star missions will enhance scientists’         and return service providers. The Request for Information
knowledge of Earth–Sun system aspects that directly affect       solicited information on current and planned space trans-
life and society. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, to be          portation capabilities to identify potential qualified providers.
launched in 2008, will observe the solar interior and atmos-     As the next step in the cargo re-supply acquisition process,
phere continuously to determine the causes of solar variabili-   NASA soon will issue a Request for Proposal.
ty. The Ionospheric/Thermospheric Mapper, to be launched
in 2009, will help scientists understand, ideally to the point   Strategic Objective 18: Use U.S. commercial space
of prediction, the effects of geomagnetic storms on the iono-    capabilities and services to fulfill NASA requirements
sphere/thermosphere, a region in the atmosphere located          to the maximum extent practical and continue to
approximately 53 to 620 miles above Earth’s surface. And,        involve, or increase the involvement of, the U.S. pri-
the Radiation Belt Mapper, to be launched in 2012, will          vate sector in design and development of space sys-
determine how space plasmas are accelerated to hazardous         tems.
energies, thereby enabling scientists to predict changes to
planetary radiation environments and protect space explorers.    As missions move further into the solar system, NASA will
                                                                 rely more heavily on private sector space capabilities to sup-
Strategic Objective 16: Pursue opportunities for inter-          port exploration activities both in and beyond Earth orbit. In
national participation to support U.S. space explo-              addition to tapping creative thinking within NASA, the
ration goals.                                                    Agency also will develop ways to solicit and leverage the
                                                                 ideas and expertise of the Nation’s universities and non-profit
Achieving the Vision for Space Exploration requires              organizations. For example, this year NASA will implement
advanced systems and capabilities that will accelerate the       the full Centennial Challenges program which will establish
development of many critical technologies, including power,      and present prizes for specific accomplishments that advance
computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, communications,        solar system exploration and other NASA goals. NASA will
networking, automation controls and guidance, robotics, and      continue working with government, industry, and academic
materials. To meet these challenging technology require-         partners to identify and achieve common research objectives
ments, NASA will invite active participation by the Agency’s     and mutual goals. And, NASA will couple its technology
international and national partners. The resulting technolo-     with private sector technology, where possible, by establish-
gies will support and advance the space programs,                ing joint agreements and collaborations to mature technolo-
economies, and security interests of the United States and all   gies and transfer them to the commercial sector where they
participating nations.                                           can benefit the public.

16                                                   The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
The Vision is Transforming NASA
NASA controllers monitor Station activities in the Station Flight Control Room at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control
Center in October 2004.

    The Vision is Transforming NASA

Implementing the Vision for Space Exploration requires a          Advanced Planning and the Road to
lead agency that can manage interdependencies and linkages
between organizational units, focus and prioritize diverse
                                                                  the Agency’s Strategic Architecture
activities, and integrate space science robotics programs with    NASA is focused on achieving the Vision for Space
future human missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.              Exploration, and the organization’s transformation includes
NASA rapidly is becoming that kind of organization through        new initiatives to improve communication among the
a variety of transformation initiatives. Transformation is a      Mission Directorates for effective project integration. One
long-term, continual process. Therefore, NASA has estab-          such key initiative is “roadmapping,” developing specific
lished three “optimal states,” targets to guide the Agency on     courses of direction to guide the Agency’s achievement of
this journey.                                                     the Vision for Space Exploration. NASA is developing both
                                                                  strategic roadmaps and capability roadmaps for release in
• Technical Excellence: NASA safely and consistently              late 2005.
  meets mission objectives through relentless technical rigor
  and sound program and project management practices.             The strategic roadmaps will ensure that NASA’s organization
  The Agency also plans strategically, manages resources          remains aligned and integrated as the Agency pursues the
  effectively, and collaborates to ensure that the right people   Vision for Space Exploration and the five National
  have the right resources at the right times to execute the      Objectives. Capability roadmaps will guide development of
  mission.                                                        identified enabling technologies critical to attaining NASA’s
                                                                  Strategic Objectives. They will include initial technology
• Organizational Excellence: NASA balances rigor with             assessments, plans to develop and integrate mature technolo-
  flexibility and innovation in its organizational and busi-      gies into the exploration architecture, and a strategy to transi-
  ness practices to ensure mission success and alignment          tion appropriate technologies to the private sector.
  with Agency core values. It also engages the American
  people to understand the relevance and value of its work        Thirteen teams of nationally recognized scientists, engineers,
  to their general welfare.                                       educators, visionaries, and managers, working with NASA
                                                                  personnel and other government agencies, are developing the
• People Excellence: NASA employs a high-performing               Agency’s strategic roadmaps. In concert with this activity,
  workforce and a cadre of exceptional leaders that are com-      15 teams of subject matter experts are crafting supporting
  mitted to NASA’s vision and mission, consistently live          capability roadmaps. Together, the strategic and capability
  Agency core values, and remain adaptable to an ever-            roadmaps will be integrated into NASA’s Strategic
  changing environment. NASA also fosters an inclusive            Architecture, a NASA-wide framework for prioritizing and
  culture in which all members of the NASA family commu-          implementing program initiatives that will encompass the
  nicate openly, feel valued, and are empowered to ensure         technical aspects of NASA’s mission, as well as the work-
  mission success.                                                force, institutional, facilities, and policy implications. This
                                                                  architecture will serve as a system of checks and balances for
Transforming NASA’s Organization                                  informed decision-making while providing a healthy, dynam-
Structure                                                         ic tension between long-term strategic and near-term tactical
NASA’s organizational transformation is off to a strong start.    considerations. (For more information, visit
As of August 2004, NASA has four Mission Directorates—  
Exploration Systems, Space Operations, Science, and
Aeronautics Research—and eight Mission Support Offices,            NASA’s staff are
including the Office of Education and the Office of Safety         critical to the
and Mission Assurance. The Agency’s transformed structure          overall success
                                                                   of the orgination
includes a Strategic Planning Council and a supporting             and its goals.
Office of Advanced Planning and Integration to enable better       The Agency val-
long-range planning, an Operations Council to integrate            ues professional-
NASA’s tactical and operational decisions, and a number of         ism, diversity,
new or reconstituted committees that support NASA’s focus          and personal
and direction. Responding to a key Aldridge Commission             growth among
                                                                   its staff and fos-
report recommendation, NASA also is reviewing possible             ters teamwork,
alternate organization models for the Agency’s Centers.            fairness, and

The Vision is Transforming NASA                                                                                                19
Moving Toward One NASA
The concept of One NASA means that the Agency will oper-
ate as a single team and apply its unique capabilities to the
pursuit of NASA’s shared mission and the Vision for Space
Exploration. The One NASA initiative enables better deci-
sion-making, enhanced collaboration, better leveraging of
resources, decreased overlap and redundancies, and greater
standardization to achieve efficiencies. It will move NASA
toward the Agency’s three optimal states by contributing to
excellence in all areas, and it will promote sustainability by
embedding these improvements permanently in NASA’s cul-
ture. Through the One NASA initiative, NASA will accom-
plish together what no single organizational element could
achieve alone.

             Implementing the President’s                         In a ceremony held in April 2004, Office of Personnel
                Management Agenda                                 Management Director Kay Coles James presented NASA
                                                                  Administrator Sean O’Keefe with a Kermit the Frog doll (left)
  In 2004, Office of Personnel Management Director                in recognition of NASA achieving a “Green” rating for its
  Kay Coles James and Office of Management and                    progress in the PMA area of Human Capital. In return,
  Budget Deputy Director Clay Johnson, III, honored               O’Keefe presented James with a plaque of appreciation
  NASA as the first Federal agency to achieve the                 from NASA. Credit: R. Bouchard.
  highest standards of excellence (“Green”) in two of
  the original five government-wide President's                  programs, and measuring organizational change through sur-
  Management Agenda (PMA) initiatives: (1) Strategic             vey instruments.
  Management of Human Capital, and (2) Budget and
  Performance Integration. NASA also achieved                    Ensuring Freedom to Manage
  “Green” in the PMA initiative of E-government.                 In 2002, NASA created the Freedom to Manage Task Force
  NASA's goal is to achieve “Green” ratings in all PMA           to identify internal and external impediments to effective
  initiatives within three to four years.                        management and recommend changes that would eliminate
                                                                 or minimize them. The Task Force considered externally
                                                                 imposed legislation and regulations and internally imposed
Assessing NASA’s Core Competencies                               policies and practices that limit managers’ abilities to act
                                                                 responsibly. The Task Force also considered existing and
In 2005, NASA’s senior leaders are developing a set of           non-existing authorities that, if put in place, would enable
Agency core competencies based on early assessments of the       better management. The Task Force currently is moving a
challenges ahead—key knowledge, skills, and capabilities         number of proposals toward enactment to ensure that the
that must reside within NASA if the Agency is to achieve its     remaining impediments to management excellence receive
objectives. They will assign specific competencies to each       the Agency’s full attention.
NASA Center with as little overlap as possible. These com-
petencies will be reviewed and adjusted periodically, with the
first review occurring in late 2005 when the strategic and                 Legislative Achievements in 2004
capability roadmaps are complete.                                 Numerous legislative proposals ultimately emerged
                                                                  from the Freedom to Manage Task Force last year,
Embedding a Safety Culture                                        including passage of the NASA Workforce Flexibility
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board report cited two        Act of 2004. This Act gives the Agency exciting
causes of the Columbia accident, one “physical” (the              new tools and flexibilities with which to attract and
sequence of events on Shuttle Mission STS-107 that                retain a world-class workforce.
destroyed the orbiter), and the other “organizational” (the
failures within NASA that allowed those events to occur).
NASA is committed to creating a “safety culture” that            Continuing the Journey
addresses all of the Board’s concerns.
                                                                 NASA’s future, and the future of America’s space program, is
Safety is NASA’s first priority and a core Agency value. The     as bright as the sun itself. For 46 years, NASA and its prede-
plan for culture change starts with instilling safety-first      cessor Agency have not wavered in their commitment to
behaviors throughout the organization beginning with the         reach for and beyond the planets and the stars to better life
Agency’s current senior leaders. This approach will establish    on Earth for all humankind. NASA has the spirit, commit-
a foundation for sustaining the safety culture even as leader-   ment, and energy to achieve the Vision for Space
ship changes. Continuing culture-change initiatives include      Exploration. The Agency will continue the journey to the
team effectiveness training at all levels of NASA, updating      future, as pledged to comrades lost and as promised to the
NASA-sponsored leadership and management development             explorers of tomorrow.

20                                                   The New Age of Exploration: NASA’s Direction for 2005 and Beyond
                                               “This cause of exploration and discovery is
                                               not an option we choose;

                                               It is a desire written in the human heart.”

                                                                                    President George W. Bush
                                                                                    February 4, 2003

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Editing, graphics, and layout by The Tauri Group, LLC. Additional graphics by Ed Jones, SAIC.

Above: A spacecraft, equipped with a centrifuge and nuclear–electric propulsion, travels to Mars in this artist’s concept of future
human space exploration. Credit: John Frassanito and Associates.
National Aeronautics
and Space Administration

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Washington, DC 20546